One thing I find fascinating about the texts we read in such courses is the
way that different parts of the Great Books tradition speak differently to different
audiences, different ages. Students of the twenty-first century read a
Medea or Farewell to Arms very different from those originally
heard or read, or, for that matter, those differently received by diverse audiences
throughout the intervening years. And hence this new collection of sometimes
|NA91||Song of Songs||Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.|
|NAX1623||Wanderer lines 26-28||Who bears it knows what a bitter companion,
shoulder to shoulder, sorrow can be,
when friends are no more.
|If you put new ideas before the eyes of fools
They'll think you foolish and worthless into the bargain;
And if you are thought superior to those who have
Some reputation for learning, you will become hated.
|NAX2941||Popol Vuh||Now it ripples, now it still murmurs, ripples, it still sighs, still hums, and it is empty under the sky.|
|NAX1476||Rumi||Friend, our closeness is this:
Anywhere you put your foot, feel me
in the firmness under you.
|NAX1476||Rumi||Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened.
Don't open the door to the study and begin reading.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
|NA1182||Thorstein the Staffstruck||"It's the same old story," said Bjarni. "No one seems willing to learn from another man's lesson."|
|NAX2077||Ki no Tsurayuki||I cannot agree
that cherry blossoms scatter
for a human heart may change
even before the wind blows.
|NA1109||Augustine||But in this I did not keep the measure of mind to mind, which is the luminous line of friendship; but from the muddy concupiscence of the flesh and the hot imagination of puberty mists steamed up to becloud and darken my heart so that I could not distinguish the white light of love from the fog of lust.|
|NAX1139||Augustine||I was not yet in love, but I was in love with love, and from the very depth of my need hated myself for not more keenly feeling the need. I sought some object to love, since I was thus in love with loving . . .|
|NA1775||Ariosto||Love, in the universal opinion of wise men, is nothing but madness.|
|Aeneid I||Virgil||Someday, perhaps, remembering even this will be a pleasure.|
|NAX792||Confucius||The Master said,"To be fond of something is better than merely to know it, and to find joy in it is better than merely to be fond of it."|
|Tao Te Ching 48||Lao Tzu||In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired.
In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.
Less and less is done,
|HC277||Plato||It is not difficult to avoid death, gentlemen of the jury; it is much more difficult to avoid wickedness, for it runs faster than death.|
|NA1712||Machiavelli||For there is such a difference between the way men live and the way they ought to live, that anybody who abandons what is for what ought to be will learn something that will ruin rather than preserve him, because anyone who determines to act in all circumstances the part of a good man must come to ruin among so many who are not good.|
|HC1101||Machiavelli||Fortune is a woman, and whoever wishes to win her must importune her and beat her, and we may observe that she is more frequently won by this sort than by those who proceed more deliberately.|
|NAX2513||Montaigne||I am afraid we have eyes bigger than our stomachs, and more curiosity than capacity. We embrace everything, but clasp only wind.|
|NA1218||Calvary||Now goeth sonne under rood
Me rueth, Mary, thy fair rood;
Now goeth sonne under tree,
Me rueth, Mary, thy son and thee.
|Inanna 44||Inanna||He laid his hands on my holy vulva,
He smoothed my black boat with cream,
He quickened my narrow boat with milk,
He caressed me on the bed.
|NA38||Gilgamesh||As for you, Gilgamesh, fill your belly with good things; day and night, night and day, dance and be merry, feats and rejoice. Let your clothes be fresh, bathe yourself in water, cherish the little child that holds your hand, and make your wife happy in your embrace; for this too is the lot of man.|
|NA30||Gilgamesh||Your lovers have found you like a brazier which smoulders in the cold, a backdoor which keeps out neither squall of wind nor storm, a castle which crushes the garrison, pitch that blackens the bearer, a waterskin that chafes the carrier, a stone which falls from the parapet, a battering ram turned back from the enemy, a sandal that trips the wearer. Which of your lovers did you love forever? What shepherd of yours has pleased you for all time?|
|HC132||Gilgamesh||You have toiled without cease, and what have you got?
Through toil you wear yourself out,
You fill your body with grief,
Your long lifetime you are bringing near to a premature end!
|NA1207||Bertan de Born||And once entered into battle let every man proud of his birth think only of breaking arms and heads, for a man is worth more dead than alive and beaten.|
|HC803||Boethius||Now there are two things on which all the performance of human activity depends, will and power. If either of them is lacking, there is no activity that can be performed. In the absence of the will, a man is unwilling to do something and therefore does not undertake it; and in the absence of the power to do it, the will is useless. So that if you see someone who wants to get something which he cannot get, you can be sure that what he has been lacking is the power to get what he wanted.|
I hate and love.
|HC310||Catullus||She swears she'd rather marry me
Than anyone--even Jupiter,
Supposing he were courting her.
But what a girl will swear
To the man who loves her ought to be
Scribbled on water, scrawled on air.
|NA 1209||Arnaut Daniel||
Each day I am a better man and purer,
|NA2155||Shakespeare||I had rather be a toad and live upon the vapor of a dungeon than keep a corner in the thing I love for others' uses.|
|Christine de Pizan||If all my writings are about sadness,
it's no surprise, for a heart in mourning
cannot have joyous thoughts. Asleep or
awake, every hour finds me in sadness. To
find joy is difficult for a heart that lives in
|Chuang Tzu 32-33||Chuang Tzu||Joy, anger, grief, delight, worry, regret, fickleness, inflexibility, modesty, willfulness, candor, insolence--music from empty holes, mushrooms springing up in dampness, day and night replacing each other before us, and no one knows where they sprout from. Let it be! Let it be! It is enough that morning and evening we have them, and they are the means by which we live. Without them we would not exist: without us they would have nothing to take hold of. This comes close to the matter. But I do not know what makes them the way they are.|
|NA1197||Al-Qabturnuh||I remembered Sulayma when the passion
of battle was as fierce
as the passion of my body when we parted.
I thought I saw, among the lances, the tall
perfection of her body,
and when they bent toward me I embraced them.